Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Bakersfield Mystery

Just missed out today bidding on three reel-to-reel recordings of Duke Ellington on Ebay. Drat!

The bidding finished at 6:30-ish Greenwich Meantime and I had failed to rouse from a Chateauneuf du pape (we do things in style at Villes Ville) induced slumber to check that I had not been out bid. I awoke at seven.

The listing description ran:

"3 Reels - Duke Ellington California Concert Vintage 10.5" Reel to Reel Recordings

I had approximately 900 of these most of which were classical music recorded in the early 1950's, I would assume these were from a similar time period, but not sure. Come to find out, they were very high quality FM recordings. I have no idea if these are as well, and I don't have any more information on these than what you will see in the pictures. I haven't verified the music noted on the reels, cards, or cans, is actually on the reels, but so far, all have been on the ones checked by other buyers. These came from a very organized collection of almost 1000 reels, so most likely they're good, but you are buying these as is."

The cans are labelled "Bakersfield Concert" and the date given on one of the reels is May 1952.

This is interesting because no mention is made of any concert in Bakersfield during May 1952 in any of the Ellington reference works. is this a hitherto unknown concert recording? Unless the lucky bidder gets in touch, I shall probably never know now.

The problem is, studying the band's itinerary (here), it is highly unlikely that they could have performed in Los Angeles during this month. Is the recording simply mis-labelled?

The band was in Bakersfield in March 1952, however. A recorded performance from the month of March does exist (details here)but no specific date nor location is known. Could this be the recording on the tape? Or is it a completely 'fresh' and unknown date?

Well, the world of Ellington aficionados is quite small so something might turn up about this tape and this sale one day. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

1966 And All That

25 February, 2016 sees the fiftieth anniversary of Duke Ellington's performance to celebrate the then newly restored and newly re-opened Le Chateau de Goutelas.

To commemorate the occasion, French cinematographer Laurent Lukik  spent two years creating a documentary which features interviews with people who were there for the occasion. In order to finance the film, he sought sponsorship through the French equivalent of Kickstarter. The campaign reached its target only days ago and now the film is to be premièred at Le Chateau Goutelas next Thursday,  the fiftieth anniversary of Duke's appearance. 

The following article appeared in  Aartur Magazine. This version is taken wholesale from Google Translate. One day when I have the time I will attempt to tidy up the translation, but in essence, the article reads:

A hen on a piano

At Castle Goutelas, in the municipality of Marcoux is currently effervescence. And for good reason. Volunteers, led by their president Marie-Claude Mioche, prepares the celebration on February 25, the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the famous American jazz musician Duke Ellington. It was in 1966, all the national press was looking towards the mountains of Drill. 50 years later, the castle of Goutelas and his men make in turn tribute to Duke Ellington who set in stone its passage Goutelas.
While volunteers are actively preparing for the festivities at the castle on February 25, the director Etienne Laurent Lukic finishes editing his documentary on Goutelas. This incredible film, true memory of the mountains of Drill, now belonging to the French heritage, will be screened on this occasion.
The project idea of ​​this documentary A hen on a Piano was born in March 2012 following an article on Drill Info read describing the coming of Duke Ellington in February 1966 in a ruined castle of Drill, amid the French countryside. However, this is meeting with Laurent Mignard, head of a specialized orchestra in Ellington's repertoire, which triggered the director Laurent Lukic, jazz enthusiast, the will to make this documentary.
t took four years Laurent Lukic to trace the history of the reconstruction of the Castle Goutelas and analyze the strong cultural, economic and social legacy to future generations throughout the region of the mountains of Drill. Four years transcribed in sumptuous images in a 52-minute documentary that director-writer forézien dubbed A hen on a piano.
If this title is amazing, it simply is the photo taken by Paris Match in February 1966 at the Château de Goutelas, Duke Ellington playing the piano with a hen raised above. For the Path of the documentary is over the famous American jazz musician to spend three days in Goutelas Castle in reconstruction. Very touched by the humanity from these men who volunteered rebuilt this building, home to the 18th century humanism, Duke Ellington wrote in tribute to these men the "Goutelas result", composed of six musical pieces. And also devote five pages Goutelas in his autobiography.
In the film, centerpiece of the evening of 25 February, the writer-director shows both archival testimonies of these men who have rebuilt this house humanist Goutelas but also testimonies from people who knew him and Duke Ellington the inhabitants of the Forez Mountains.
Preview Thursday, February 25 at Castle Goutelas

18.00 | Premiere of the documentary "A hen on a piano" directed by Laurent Lukic
19.30 | Having dinner
20.30 | Jazz concert
€ 28 (projection + dinner + concert) | Concert only 12 € | Reservations
To book, contact the Castle Goutelas at 04 77 97 35 42 or the Tourist Office of the Pays d'Astree at 04 77 24 01 28

About the film.

The history of the Castle Goutelas is not just the simple arrival of an international star, she is well before it. Although quoted in one of the great novel of the eighteenth century, "L'Astree" by Honoré d'Urfé, despite being a center of meetings, debates and Humanism - a courses of arcadia Europe - this castle is in ruins in 1961. it is the union of men from diverse backgrounds who have allowed the rebirth of this place. Lawyers, farmers, union workers, the Spanish Communist workers fleeing the Franco regime, men of faith, artists including Duke Ellington, have rebuilt together, after 150,000 hours of volunteer work, the castle so rich in symbols ...

Duke Ellington stayed three days in the Drill. He brings its reputation and delivers messages with his music. It is through this that the director treats the film as the Jazz in Forez in 1966 is a paradox! Here they sang the Bourree for old and we listened to Claude François younger. But the Jazz, with its universal values, fraternal, clearly illustrates the contrast between all these social circles together around a common cause, devoid of any interest. We notice at the discretion of the film that Duke Ellington is a volunteer like so many others and it was also marked by Goutelas! Many volunteers have described, in their submissions, Goutelas as an example to follow. Duke Ellington, in turn, devotes five pages to this place! Better yet, in 1966, he created for Foréziens incredible suite of six musical pieces he simply named the Goutelas Suite.

Today Goutelas regained its former glory. The castle has again become a meeting place (accredited by the Ministry of Culture "Meeting of Cultural Center" in May 2015) advocating its ancestral values ​​of openness, solidarity and humanism. The youth of the country is invited in the courtyard to dance to the Duke Ellington revisited with the remix Do not mean a thing DJ Etienne The Architect.

This film participated in the meeting of all those who lived these three days of February 1966 by American artist company. Telling these three days, it is necessary to reconstitute the five years to the rebirth of the castle.

Lawrence wished lukic and show through the film why all the protagonists of the rebirth Goutelas have much invested in reconstruction? What this human adventure marked them?

The director wanted to give voice to those who were there, and especially those who are yet ... to burn in the French heritage, forézien, those memories that fade with time. A duty to remember so but also awareness raising.

"Meeting these men helped me realize that Goutelas had a strong impact on the economic and cultural development of the country of Astrea. Raise awareness, but also to question what has been accomplished and understand how this achievement was an amazing adventure. And if it was simply an example to follow for living together? "(Laurent Lukic)

A hen on a piano is a citizen documentary, full of common sense, of anecdotes and full of humanism. Humanism, an abstract value that only the protagonists of this film will explain ...

"If the television have not adhered to date on this project, I hope to film a career Festival. For the film to be releasable, I will have to pay footage at INA (8 minutes in total, ca expensive!). I'll also have to pay music rights on pieces of Goutelas Suite used in the film. I must also pays Philippe Milanta, pianist Laurent Mignard Duke Orchestra, for the work of reconstruction of a piece of Ellington.

The shooting of this film saw involve many, many volunteers. Again thank you to them! Thank you to the DWA Association for initiating this movie, thank you to Goutelas Cultural Centre for facilitating the shoot, thank you for having Dove Production partially funded this project.

Laurent Lukic.

Here are two teasers for the documentary:

Thursday, 4 February 2016

An American Composer and Icon

A new book on Duke Ellington compiled by his grand daughter Mercedes is to be published by Rizzoli in the USA on 22 March, 2016 and the UK on 1 March. 

Details from Rizzoli's site say:

Duke Ellington: An American Composer and Icon
Written by Steven Brower and Mercedes Ellington, Contribution by Dave Brubeck and Quincy Jones, Introduction by Tony Bennett
  •  March 22, 2016
  •  Hardcover
  •  Music - Genres & Styles - Jazz
  •  Rizzoli
  •  8-15/16 x 12
  •  $55.00
  •  $55.00
  •  978-0-8478-4813-3

About This Book

Beautifully illustrated and unparalleled in scope, this is an elegant visual celebration befitting the life and work of the "prince of the piano." Duke Ellington was the undisputed father of the American songbook. A prolific writer and consummate performer, Ellington was the author of such standards as "Solitude," "Prelude to a Kiss," and "It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)." With a career that spanned five decades, he is one of the defining composers of the Jazz Age. With unprecedented access to the Ellington family archives, this long overdue book illuminates the life and work of an icon of twentieth-century music from his humble beginnings to his long-lasting success. Every stage of Ellington’s career is brought to life, from sepia photographs of his early days in Washington, DC, to colorful playbills from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, his triumphant tours of Europe in the 1930s, and his pioneering explosion of form and genre in the 1940s and beyond. Alongside more than two hundred stunning images, contributions from peers such as Dave Brubeck, Cornel West, Quincy Jones, and Tony Bennett shed light on Ellington’s musical legacy, while the voice of his granddaughter Mercedes reveals the character behind the charisma, and the man behind the piano.

About the Author

Mercedes Ellington has danced in and choreographed many Broadway productions, including programs at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Steven Brower is the author of Woody Guthrie Artworks and Satchmo: The Wonderful Art and World of Louis Armstrong.

Tony Bennett is a legendary jazz singer whose career has spanned decades.

Dave Brubeck was an acclaimed experimental American jazz pianist and composer.

Cornel West is a philosopher, activist, political commentator, and occasional musician.

Quincy Jones is a musician, composer, and record producer, with a record seventy-nine Grammy Award nominations.